An intoxicatingly light-hearted love triangle
This fast-paced love triangle is about Count Almaviva and Doctor Bartolo competing for the favours of the lovely Rosina. In order for the Count to woo her away from her possessive guardian Bartolo, the aid of the self-satisfied resourceful intrigue artist otherwise known as Figaro the barber – an expert in advice for star-crossed lovers – is required.
The premiere of Il barbiere di Siviglia in Rome in 1816 was a fiasco. Only Rosina’s cavatina was applauded; otherwise, the audience was indifferent or even whistled and booed. Misfortune also played a part: Basilio fell down and sang his gossip aria with a bloody nose, Almaviva broke a string on his guitar, and a cat wandered onto the stage in the middle of it all.
After its unfortunate premiere, however, Il barbiere di Siviglia went on to become one of the world’s most popular operas. Its secret is in its catchy story and brilliant music, with lovely melodies and sparkling ornaments.
in which we meet an enamoured count, a beautiful maiden, a jealous guardian and a barber of many talents, the latter of whom masterminds such a jumbled state of affairs that the audience is advised to stay and see how it all plays out.
Count Almaviva is in love with sweet Rosina, but so is her guardian Bartolo. Rosina chooses Almaviva after hearing his heartfelt serenade at her window, but how can Almaviva get past Bartolo’s guards to see his beloved? The Count waits in the street dejected.
Along the road comes the barber Figaro, bragging of his wide-ranging virtuosity. He proposes a plan: the Count should disguise himself as a soldier with orders to lodge at Bartolo’s house for the night.
Inside the house, Rosina recollects the serenade and writes a love letter to her dear Lindoro, a name Count Almaviiva used as he sang to conceal his true identity. Rosina’s voice instructor Basilio takes note of this and warns Bartolo that a rival suitor has entered the picture. Basilio suggests that they smear the rival’s reputation by creating false rumours and describes a bit of gossip that he believes will do the trick.
Figaro meets Rosina and agrees to bring her letter to Count Almaviva. The Count then enters Bartolo’s house, pretending to be a drunken soldier. At the first opportunity, he whispers to Rosina that he is her sweet Lindoro and gives her a love letter of his own. Bartolo is suspicious and confronts the lovers. A ruckus ensues that must be broken up by the watchmen.
in which we see yet more disguises and a storm that has nothing to do with the story before we reach the surprising conclusion.
Count Almaviva enters the Bartolo house again in a different disguise. He is now the substitute voice instructor, as Basilio has taken ill. Unfortunately, Basilio himself arrives on the scene soon after and the Count has considerable trouble disposing of him.
Bartolo calls Figaro to shave him, so he can keep his eye on Rosina and the stranger during their voice lesson. The lovers finally speak and plan their escape. Bartolo suspicions rise and he rushes to call a notary to come to the house and draw up a marriage contract for him and Rosina.
After a brief thunder storm, we once again find Figaro and the Count covertly entering into the house. Soon Basilio arrives with the notary that Bartolo has sent for. After some persuasion, the notary draws up a marriage contract for Count Almaviiva and Rosina instead. Bartolo bursts in too late and begrudgingly congratulates the newly wedded couple.
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